Saturday, January 31, 2015

Panama Championship Round 3

Saturday's round didn't quite go as I had planned. I felt great about my game heading into round three, and I was very confident that I was going to shoot a good score. I was also very confident that I would have a great mindset and approach my round one shot at a time. I did neither of those two things. I started off very solidly and gave myself makeable birdie putts on seven of the first eigth holes. I couldn't get any of them to fall, and I found myself frustrated despite the fact that I was playing well. A couple of loose shots after the turn led to bogeys on holes 10 and 11 and then my mind began to spiral a little bit. I hit just one green in regulation on the back nine and made four bogies to post a four-over-par round of 74. I really don't feel like my golf swing abondoned me, I just let my mind get away from me a little bit again. I had a great practice session after my round and confirmed that all areas of my game are in great shape. As for the mental shortcomings I've experienced the past couple days on the course, I feel fairly certain that I am just getting back into the swing of playing tournament golf. I know that my mind and my attitude are my greatest strengths, and I don't think that has suddenly changed. I'll get back on track, and there's no time like Sunday to get that started. I didn't move the right direction on "moving day," but I have 18 more holes to improve here in Panama. I'm going to play them one shot at a time with a great attitude! 

Come back on Sunday evening for a final-round report and a summary of my first tournament week of 2015. Thank you very much for keeping up with me!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Panama Championship Round 2

My quick update after round two is this: my hard work is working. I know this because I was not in a great mindset during much of the round on Friday, but I was still able to execute a lot of quality golf shots and shoot a good score. My struggles last year must have left a bit of a scar in my mind. No matter how much I tried to stay focused on one shot a time, I felt some "cut anxiety" all day on Friday despite a fantastic morning practice session prior to my afternoon tee time. I allowed this uncomfortableness to cause a bogey on the first hole and much stress the rest of the day. The good news is that my game held up nicely despite the poor thought pattern. I credit the hard work I put in this off-season for that. For the second consecutive round, I overcame a shaky start--two over par through three holes on Friday--to play solid golf and shoot even par. Level par on this golf course is a pretty good score, so I am thrilled with the state of my game and am confident that I will play great over the weekend. 

As for this "cut anxiety" issue, that is a real problem. The only way to play golf successfully is to commit fully to each shot and trust that I will execute it. Fear, anxiety, and doubt are the opposite of trust, and thinking about the cut during a round of golf leads to these types of negative thoughts. I know that I will overcome this issue, but it is definitely a very real thing for me right now. 

The answer is to play one shot a time, and it doesn't get any more complicated than that. 

I'm very excited that I have two more days of competition here in Panama to climb the leaderboard and practice playing golf one shot at a time. My game is in great shape. I am going to trust it and commit to having a present mindset on the course this weekend. Good stuff is coming! Keep it here for weekend updates from the first Tour event of 2015. Thank you for following!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Panama Championship Round 1

I felt great heading into the tournament. My long-term preparation had been great, and my on-site preparation was equally good. I knew that I was ready. Seven holes into Thursday's opening round, I walked off of the 16th green (my seventh hole of round one) grumbling to myself about what-in-the-world-is-going-on? I had just made a nervous stroke on a five-footer for par and missed to fall to three over par through seven holes. In truth, however, I had executed nearly every shot as planned. Twice, poor decision making (namely, club selection) had cost me shots and one nervy driver swing led to a bogey on my opening hole. As I reached the 17th tee, I analyzed my performance, confirmed that all was still great, and proceeded to play extremely solid golf for the remainder of the round. I made three birdies and zero bogies over my final 11 holes to post an even-par score of 70. It was a great recovery after the tough start, and I am feeling very good. 

Though I didn't feel particularly sharp at all times, I was very proficient on the course today. I hit 13 of 18 greens in regulation and felt that all areas of my game were fairly solid. With the exception of the aforementioned nervous stroke early in the day, I putted well, but I didn't make any putts outside of the "should-make-it" range. If I can sharpen my ball-striking a little each day and start to get hot with the putter, I feel like I will do great things. 

I have an afternoon tee time on Friday, and I am looking forward to continuing my solid play. Stay tuned for more post-round updates. Thank you for keeping up with me!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Go Time, 2015!

It is impossible not to think grandly at this time each year. Tomorrow morning (Thursday) at 8:05, I will tee it up in the first round of the first Tour event of 2015. Over the past three months, I have had the best practice of my life, and I definitely feel like tomorrow will be the start of a great year. In addition to three great months of work, I have had three really good days of preparation here in Panama. With all that said, I know that I need to turn my excitement down a notch and simply go have fun playing golf. My mind wonders to the great things I want to accomplish this year, but I know that to have success, I must stay in the present and stay committed to to my plan. 2015 will be a great year for me, but it starts with being relaxed, being present, playing one shot at a time, and following my process. I'm ready to do that! 

My work in Panama has been great. I really like the course, and I feel ready to get started. Keep it here for updates throughout the tournament, and thank you for following me!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In Panama After a Great Week

I was determined to complete my Full Fitness Routine and Full Practice Schedule during my last off-week before the 2015 Tour season. I was on top of the fitness element all week and completed all of my workouts by Saturday morning. Completing the Practice Schedule, on the other hand, looked very questionable as Alicia and I drove from Tennessee to Florida on a rainy Friday. Great East Tennessee weather allowed me to have quality days of practice early in the week, but I chose (wisely, I believe) to spend a large portion of my time on the course having some fun matches with friends to help me prepare for competition. I dedicated a lot of time to my practice drills, too, but I had quite a few of them remaining when the weather turned cold and rainy on Friday. When Alicia and I started the drive to Florida, I didn't feel good about my chances to get all of my Practice Schedule completed, but I had one thing in my favor: an afternoon flight on Sunday. I was able to get in a couple hours of practice on Saturday evening after my lesson with Mitchell, and then I had a great session on Sunday morning. It was chilly by central-Florida standards, so the practice facililties were fairly peaceful, and I efficiently worked through my remaining drills and completed my Full Practice Schedule. When I made the final putt of my last putting drill, I felt like I wanted to pump my fist! I never even fist pump in tournaments, much less on the practice green, but I think the emotion that I felt proves the value of my practice structure. It was a great sense of accomplishment, and I feel like it signified that my game and my mind are ready to start competing. 

In addition to completing my Process Goals, I had a great session with Mitchell on Saturday. I have worked really hard on my swing over the past three months, and I feel that my golf swing is simpler, more efficient, and more consistent now than it has ever been. This Saturday, Mitchell confirmed everything that I am feeling. I know that I have a lot of work to do to become the ball-striker that I want to be, but I definitely feel like I am on track to do that. It is an exciting feeling!

Another exciting feeling is actually being back out on the road (or air, in most cases) for tournament golf. Alicia and I landed in Panama on Sunday evening and are all settled in and ready for a great week here. Stay tuned for a practice report and maybe a picture or two before the tournament begins on Thursday. Thank you for following me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hard (Fun!) Work This Week

As I said in my last post, this is a big week for me. The reason that this is a big week for me is that I am trying to accomplish a lot of things. I want to complete the Full Practice Schedule and Full Fitness Routine laid out in my Process Goals. Additionally, I want to have some friendly matches here at home so that I can get in the mindset of playing golf and shooting good scores. On top of that, I have two days of travel this week as Alicia and I will drive to Florida on Friday and then fly from Orlando to Panama on Sunday. It's going to be a be a busy week, but I'm off to a great start and am definitely feeling motivated to keep going!

I'm writing this on Wednesday evening, and that means that one week from tomorrow, I will tee it up in the first Tour event of 2015 and begin my quest to return to the PGA Tour. I am very excited to get the tournament season started. My top Outcome Goal for this year is to regain my PGA Tour Card, but I know that the way to achieve that goal is to wrap myself in the process of improving every week. I know that I talk about them an awful lot here on my blog, but I really like this year's set of Process Goals, and I feel like following them will put me on a course to steadily improve and accomplish great things. Last year, I let my focus settle on the outcome of things too much, and as a result, I felt an unreasonable amount of pressure and also lost sight of my practice goals for much of the season. I want to learn from that mistake. I have my 2015 Outcome Goals written down where I will look at them every day, and I want them to serve as a great source of motivation. I want my daily focus, however, to be on the process of improving. I really enjoy the hard work that I put into my game, and I am ready to relax and trust that work in competition. 

That's not to say I don't have a lot more hard work to do. I am excited to keep improving. The work that I have done on my mechanics over the past three months is making a huge difference for me, but I still have work to do to own my swing. My wedge play, short game, and putting all feel great, but those areas can alway be sharper. I love to practice, and I am committed to doing it well this year. 

I have had beautiful January weather so far for this big week of preparation. I've had two matches already--an encouraging one on Monday and a very sloppy one that reminded me I still have work to do on Tuesday--and another one planned for Thursday. My practice has felt good and I am on track to complete my "Full Week" Process Goals. It has been a solid week so far, and I'm feeling great. 

Thank you for your support. I appreciate you keeping up with me. We are getting very close to the fun stuff (competing and winning tournaments!), so keep it here for more news and to enjoy this great ride with me. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Light Week; Feeling Great

I have to admit that going to Hawaii and not getting into the tournament made for a lot of travel in a short period of time. Traveling home from the beautiful islands was a two-day affair, and it took me a third day to readjust to the eastern time zone. Still, I don't regret that trip even a little bit. Not only did Alicia and I get to enjoy three great days together in paradise, I also got back into a tournament mindset and was able to practice all of the things that go along with that. I am hungry to compete again, and it was very good to get a small taste of that this week. It would have been great to get more tournament golf, but the trip to Hawaii served its purpose. Oh, and this view wasn't bad, either!
Once I did come back to reality, it was great to be home. I never quite got back up to full speed this week, but I had three really good days of work Friday-Sunday. When I did not qualify on Monday, I set my sights on completing my Light Fitness Routine and Light Practice Schedule this week. It took a couple of solid practice sessions over the weekend, but I did just that. I am really happy with the structure of my Process Goals this year, and this week was a great example of why they are good. I was able to enjoy a refeshingly fun off-day on Tuesday in Hawaii, travel overnight Tuesday and all day Wednesday to get home, and then still feel a great sense of accomplishment by completing my goals without driving myself crazy the last three days of the week. My Light Practice Schedule forced me to have focused, disciplined practice Friday-Sunday, but it was a very realistic expectation and allowed me to enjoy the time that I spent away from golf mid-week. 

Now I am ready to have a full week, though! This upcoming week will be big for me. It is my last week before the 2015 Tour Season begins. On Sunday, January 25, Alicia and I will fly to Panama to officially get our season started. I have worked very hard on my game over the last three months, and I am excited to have one more thorough week of preparation and then put it into action. 

Thank you for keeping up with me! It's going to be an exciting season. Keep it here for some good updates from my final week of work before it all gets started. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Leaving Paradise

Every day is paradise when you love your job as much as I do, but some locations (and climates) are more desirable than others. I'm sad to say that I didn't play well enough on Monday to earn an extended stay in Hawaii. I hit the ball very solidly and was pleased with some aspects of my game, but overall I was not very sharp. On a fairly easy golf course in ideal scoring conditions, I made three birdies, one bogey, and a double bogey to shoot even par. Five under par was the qualifying mark. I definitely have some work to do to sharpen my game, but I am still encouraged by this start. Monday qualifiers are a tough format in which to evaluate one's game. I did enough things right to make me feel like I am ready to play a four-round event. I am disappointed to be leaving Hawaii without getting into the Sony Open, but I am excited to keep working on my game. I will be ready to go in two weeks when the Tour schedule begins!

Thank you for following and caring about me. Keep it here for more news as I put in the final preparations for the beginning of my 2015 tournament schedule. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Great First Week!

I certainly meant to give at least one update during the last seven days, but it was a very full week with a lot of stuff happening. Alicia and I battled cold weather in Jacksonville and severe cold (the illness) symptoms in Orlando. On Saturday, we embarked on our longest (in terms of mileage) journey together as we flew from Orlando to the Hawaiian island of O'ahu. Through it all, we stayed focused, did great work, and had a blast. Our hard work paid off. It's now Sunday evening in Hawaii, and we are feeling great as we look back on our long week.

My first official work week of 2015 was not without its challenges. I had great weather for my first two days in Florida, but it turned chilly and then downright bitterly cold on Wednesday and Thursday. Still, I managed to get in some useful practice. I was dealing with some annoying cold symptoms all week, but they tried to knock me out on Friday. I didn't let them. I had a great session with Mitchell in Orlando during which my swing really started firing on most cylinders. Saturday was fun as Alicia and I began our day at 3:50 AM in Orlando and went to bed five time zones and 23 hours later at 9:50 PM in Hawaii. (There was plenty of sleeping on air planes in between, though.) So there were plenty of challenges to overcome this week, but nothing that was really problematic.

I am absolutely thrilled with my effort and my work this first official week of 2015. I completed a Full Fitness Routine this week, and, with a great day of work in the beautiful Hawaii weather on Sunday, I completed my Full Practice Schedule, too! That is a great way to start the year, and I can tell that I am really going to like my 2015 Process Goals.

So now to the real question: what are we doing in Hawaii? Easy, I'm going to qualify for the Sony Open on Monday (1/12), and Alicia and going to caddie for me. The Sony is a PGA Tour event at Waialae Country Club, and that was one of my favorite courses on Tour last year. I feel like my game is in good enough shape to qualify and compete in the tournament, so I feel like it was definitely worth it to make the trip out here. The Monday Qualifier will be a challenge as they always are. At this particular qualifier, 80-something players are assembled competing for four spots in the tournament field. At the end of the day on the Monday, the assessment will be pass/fail, but I feel ready and am excited to compete. This is a great venue for me to kick off my 2015 competitive schedule.

I am excited to get started. I had a great offseason and an even better first week of being back "in season." It would be a great way to start the year to get into the Sony, and I believe that I will do it. Keep it here for an update after the Monday Qualifier. Thank you for following me and believing in me. 2015 is going to be a BIG year!

Also, on a sad note, my first and long-time coach, Bobbo, had a stroke on Thursday night. He was doing well on Saturday and then I heard that he was put back into ICU on Sunday, so I'm not sure how he's doing now. I know a lot of you know him, so let's send some encouragement out for Bobbo and get him back up and running soon!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It Is 2015!

I am incredibly excited to get this new year started! I did not have the year that I had hoped to have in 2014 as a rookie on the PGA Tour, but I thoroughly believe that I learned exactly what I was supposed to learn, and I am now very motivated to get back there. I will begin the 2015 season on the Tour and will have a plethora of ways to earn my PGA Tour Card again. 2015 is going to be a big year for me.

The 2014 season taught me a number of things. The first and most obvious thing that I learned is that I need to get better. I have always been striving for steady improvement throughout my career, but I learned in 2014 that I need to be very intentional about becoming a more consistent ball-striker. To address this, I did an early off-season search for an instructor who could offer some fresh input, and I have worked incredibly hard over the past two months on some new swing thoughts that are helping me to swing the club more simply, more efficiently, and more consistently. I also learned in 2014 that my dedication to a practice schedule is paramount to my success. I found that the PGA Tour is full of distractions, and I know that to a lesser degree the Tour is as well. I need to stay focused on my business and get my work done. I did a very poor job of following my practice schedule for the first two-thirds of 2014, and I never felt great about my game during the season. For the last couple months of the year, I learned ways to overcome the distractions, and I started to have great practice. It's all about making choices, and for me, prioritizing my style of practice is the right choice to play my best golf. The last thing I learned in 2014 is that I absolutely am good enough to play on the PGA Tour. Though I was frustratingly inconsistent, my results were not all bad. I was good on the weekends. I had three top-20 finishes, and, though my sample size was small, I led the PGA Tour in final-round scoring average. I am good enough to be very succesful at the highest level of golf, and using the lessons I learned in 2014 is going to help me realize that potential.

I have lofty goals for the 2015 sesaon. You can read all of my goals in the link titled "2015 Goals" at the top of the page. As I have done the last several years, my goals are categorized as Outcome Goals, Statistical Goals, and Process Goals. My number ONE Outcome Goal for 2015 is to earn my PGA Tour Card for the 2015-2016 season. Additional Outcomes I would like to acheive are winning an event on the Tour and then winning three events on the Tour to recieve a mid-season promotion to the PGA Tour. These are the Outcome Goals that I have set for 2015. The way for me to acheive these outcomes is to follow my Process Goals. My experiences over the past three years have shaped this year's version of my Process Goals, and I feel like they are very good. You have heard (and will continue to hear) me refer to my Process Goals as "Map Goals." The reason I do this is because my Process Goals are the "directions" that will help me reach "destinations" (Outcome Goals) for which I am striving. My Process Goals set out my weekly practice and workout plan and create a schedule that holds me accountable for completing my work. This year's version has some built-in flexibility in the form of light weeks and even off weeks that work into the system every five weeks. That flexibility is important because it will allow me to stay fresh and sharp without feeling like I am falling off-schedule. I am very happy with my Goals for 2015. I feel like my Outcome Goals are lofty but attainable, and I feel like my Process Goals are the best that I've ever created. I officially get to work on my 2015 season starting Monday, January 5, so it is go-time!

I am so excited for this year. I have had a great off-season, and I am ready to get the 2015 season started. I feel that I am prepared mentally and physically to have a great year. Keep it here to enjoy this fun ride with me. Thank you very much for believing in me and caring about me! Great stuff is coming!

New Blog Site

Hi everyone! Thank you for continuing to try to keep up with me. As you might have noticed, I've not been updating this blog at all late...